CJ7 Movie Review

PG, 86 min, 2008

Director: Stephen Chow
Writers: Stephen Chow (written by) & Vincent Kok (written by) & Kan-Cheung Tsang (written by) (as Tsang Kan Cheong) & Sandy Shaw (written by) (as Sandy Shaw Lai King) & Chi Keung Fung (written by) (as Fung Chih Chiang) & Fung Lam (written by) (as Lam Fung)

Stars: Stephen Chow, Kitty Zhang Yuqi, Jiao Xu

Obnoxious, frenetic, dull, long (at a mere 86 minutes!), and stupefying are all words which occurred to me while watching CJ7, the latest export from Stephen Chow – not to mention painful and idiotic. Chow should’ve kept it to himself.

Dicky (Jiao Xu) is a precocious young “poor boy” who lives with his construction worker father Ti (Stephen Chow) in a cramped hovel near the construction site. Kids tease him at school, he gets poor grades, a tall, monstrously over-sized classmate hits on him, causing him to gulp out of fear/nervousness/would-be comic timing over and over, etc., etc. He does have one “ally” in a nice pretty teacher (Kitty Zhang Yuqi – her actual name?) who treats him like a human being.

One day, Dicky and his father see a news report about an alleged U.F.O. sighting – one in which the photo evidence displays something looking uncannily like the “witness”‘s hat. That night, Dicky is playing around in the scrap heap near his “home” and stumbles upon a small metallic thingabob – an object of some sort which turns out to house something “unexpected.” Soon, Dicky befriends the creature – a furry-faced green glob that looks somewhat akin to a cross between a Furby and Flubber. He names it (exasperated at his mean classmate’s discovery of it) “CJ7″ (after a popular robot dog toy that Dicky’s young arch-rival has in his possession).

Soon, “CJ7″ is making special glasses which help him cheat on tests, it’s beating up a vicious dog on the way to school, it’s giving him special shoes to compete in gym class, etc., etc. And that’s quite enough of the plot, don’t you think?

Stephen Chow, who wrote and directed, previously made such famous Hong Kong action comedies as Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, mixtures of cinephile geekdom and slapstick comedy that had a certain charm – the Asian Quentin Tarantino is a common critical moniker he’s been bestowed. Here, in attempting to make a family friendly “message” movie for kids, I think he’s set the bar too low somehow.

Here he settles for dumb physical humor, an extended bathroom joke (involving CJ7′s waste), and overactive sound effects, editing and camerawork when the film should be making you like the characters enough to care. I didn’t.

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Filed under 2008

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